Women's role in development : the case of fisheries in Nigeria.
Women playa vital role in the agricultural sector of many developing economies.
However, their efforts have been largely taken for granted, their needs ignored, and
their work remains statistically invisible. Since statistics are supposed to function as
tools in planning, this has widespread consequences - the continued neglect of
women's activities especially as this relates to development.
Although the importance of the role of women in development has of recent been
acknowledged, the approach at a planning and operational level has been minimal.
This has led to questions about the limitations of focussing on women in isolation and
instead examining ways of focussing on gender which is the core of this research.
In view of this, this research provides a framework for integrating women into the
mainstream of development activities without treating them as a homogenous group,
using a case study approach of women in the fisheries sector in Igbokoda fishing
community, Nigeria. This study uses primary data collected through a household
survey from a sample of 300 women over a period of 5 months. The survey covers
three major areas - the gender division of labour and time allocation to activities; the
gender allocation of responsibilities (responsibility for household expenditure by
gender); and access and control of men and women to productive resources.
Another aspect that is important to this research concerns development projects -
past and present - and the impact these have on women. The overall purpose of this
study is to demonstrate that gender roles constitute a key variable in the socioeconomic
condition of any country - one that can be decisive in the success or failure
of development plans.
The major results of the study suggest that women in this community (as in many
agricultural communities of developing economies) are working longer hours than
men. They spend on average about 13% more time on income-earning activities and
9% less on leisure than men. They also spend on average 70% of their earnings on
household food and basic needs. Only about 3.3% of the women studied had access to
modem technology and extension services/literacy and training programmes.
This research argues that women's work is critical to the survival of their families,
they are key actors in the economic system, and their neglect in development plans
has left untapped a potentially large economic contribution.